Number 4 – Shortstop Kevin Newman
Had Meadows not been traded, he’d likely slot into this spot with Kevin Newman at number 5. While Newman had a terrific rookie campaign in 2019, he has just one strong season under his belt to Meadows’ two. Additionally, Meadows is a better hitter than Newman. But I digress.
Newman started the 2019 season as a bench bat for the Pirates. After a short stint on the injured list, he took off at the plate and won the team’s starting shortstop job. Playing in 130 games, Newman accumulated 531 plate appearances in his first full MLB season. He hit for a .308/.353/.446 slash line to go with a 110 wRC+, finishing the season with a 2.4 fWAR. He showed a knack for clutchness as he led the team with four walk off hits.
While, as I covered earlier in the offseason, there is reason for concern about Newman’s offense whenever play does resume, he appears to be an above average utility man at worst. At best, he could be one of the best middle infielders in the National League. Especially if he moves to second base where he is better suited defensively.
Regardless, to Newman’s credit, he grabbed the bull by the horns in 2019. He locked up a starting job, rather it be at shortstop or second base, and, for now at least, the job as the team’s primary lead off hitter as well.